Know this, your car - locked or heavily armed - is not safe from H.B. Halicki's badass crew of car thieves.
It might not be as sleek as the Nicolas Cage remake from 2000, but H.B. Halicki’s original Gone in 60 Seconds boasts a 40 minute car chase that wrecks just under 100 vehicles as one thief races against time to collect a very much prized muscle car. Read that opening line again. I’ll wait. That’s right, 93 vehicles obliterated in a brisk 40 minute car chase. While the total number of vehicles wrecked throughout the entire feature is close to 500, that number doesn’t even come close to the mph speed this thundering movie reaches in its running time.
Writer/director/producer H.B. Halicki stars as Pace, a mild-mannered insurance investigator, who goes about his life in a nondescript kind of way. Of course this is all a sham; his real line of work comes from heading an illegal car-theft ring and chop shop and, when propositioned with $200,000 to steal 48 classic cars complete with an unrealistic deadline, he and his den of thieves – Eugene (Jerry Daugirda), Stanley (James McIntyre) and Pumpkin (Marion Busia) - just can’t resist the challenge.
Every single vehicular heist goes as planned…except for one. Eleanor, a ’73 Mustang is Pace’s responsibility and, ultimately, the reason for the movie’s existence and continued celebration. In this classic chase sequence, Halicki, who might not exude much charisma for a leading man, earns his racing and stunt driving stripes. Most of the film’s appeal comes from this sequence and it never fails to disappoint…no matter how many car chase sequences you’ve seen in films before or maybe have been involved in.
It’s a wonder this film was ever made. Halicki, credited as the screenwriter, apparently had the film “written” in his head only and sent the footage to his editor, Warner E. Leighton, in unlabeled boxes with no hint and no instruction in how it should be assembled together. Fortunately, Leighton was the only crew member who had experience with film and was able to, literally, piece the scenes together.
The filming of the movie - with cars reaching speeds at over 100 mph - also proved to be problematic. Halicki wanted to create the need for speed and have it translate across the screen which meant he had to put several people’s lives at risk in order to get certain shots. He avoided close-ups because they were too safe. Everything in the movie is filmed as it happened. If there was a mistake or a car rolled too many times, it’s there and it’s a wild ride. Mostly, as seen in the long-shots, it was his life at risk behind the wheel.
It is highly recommended that you pick up a copy of the original Gone in 60 Seconds before these puppies, like Halicki himself, are gone, baby, gone.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 98 mins.
Director: H.B. Halicki
Writer: H.B. Halicki
Cast: H.B. Halicki; Marion Busia; Jerry Daugirda; James McIntyre; George Cole; Ronald Halicki
Genre: Action | Drama | Crime
Tagline: Let the wrecking begin
Memorable Movie Quote: "Where in the hell's she think we've been? Out to coffee?"
Distributor: H.B. Halicki Mercantile Co.
Release Date: July 28, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 16, 2012
Synopsis: Insurance investigator Maindrian Pace and his team lead double-lives as unstoppable car thieves. When a South American drug lord pays Pace to steal 48 cars for him, all but one, a 1973 Ford Mustang, are in the bag. As Pace prepares to rip-off the fastback, codenamed "Eleanor", in Long Beach, he is unaware that his boss has tipped off the police after a business dispute. Detectives are waiting and pursue Pace through five cities as he desperately tries to get away.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - October 16, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS 5.1 (755 kbps); English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A,B
Yes, Virginia, at one time films were shot on actual 35 mm film. This 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is a total celebration of those days and of independent filmmaking. The image, while crisp and colorful, is extremely grainy and dotted with other filmic noise. As it was shot with available light, the hi-def upgrade only sonically reflects the imperfections of the low budget shoot. But should we complain? Not in the least. It was restored in 2000 and the images on the transfer are exactly the way they would look when shown on the big screen way back in the 1970s. The black levels are solid, the colors are good, and the detail is crisp. Fine detail is almost non-existent due to the filmic aspects, but skin tones are natural and the East to West Coast surroundings are certainly alive. The sound is presented in a choice of three tracks: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital, and DD stereo. Dialogue is clean and presented in the front channels. Because there are those nitpicking already over this release, it should be noted that the original soundtrack has been jettisoned (as it was in its DVD release back in 2000) in favor of a score composed by Bill Maxwell and Lou Pardini.
- Cameraman Jack Vacek and Editor Warner E. Leighton provide the film’s commentary. The old guys talk like they haven’t seen each other in ages and relive their glory days with this spirited recording. A 45-minute documentary about Halicki follows in which we get a good idea of the stunt man and the restoration of the film.
These are the same special features that graced the Halicki Estate approved 2000 DVD release. Nothing new has been added to the mix. I’m not sure we needed anything new as these are pretty solid supplemental items. Summarizing the history of the movie is Denice Halicki in the film’s optional intro. His three other films are highlighted in a ‘Cut to the Chase’ featurette which highlights the chase sequences. Interviews follow with a brief look at his other films. A DVD copy of the film and exciting cover art is included with the release.
- Intro (3 min)
- The Life and Times of H.B. "Toby" Halicki: The Car Crash King (45 min)
- The Junkman (17 min)
- Deadline Auto Theft (10 min)
- Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (11 min)
- Interview with Denice Halicki (9 min)
- Interview with Lee Iacocca Automobile Icon (9 min)
- The Junkman Trailer